he bill introduced in January by Senator Raymond Lesniak proposes the state’s Atlantic casinos offer online versions of their land-based games to state residents, including poker, blackjack and baccarat, with the state collecting 20% of annual gross gaming revenues.
Speaking ahead of the bill’s review by a state Senate Committee, lobbyist William Pascrell III told local paper The Record that the state was experiencing a "perfect storm" – a recession coupled with struggling horse racing and Atlantic City casino industries – that could be addressed by legalising online gaming.
"New Jersey could become a global mecca for Internet gaming," Pascrell told the paper, adding that any regulatory and licensing issues could be addressed within six to nine months of the bill becoming law.
A study commissioned by lobby group the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) which worked with Lesniak on drafting the bill, has estimated that a New Jersey intrastate gambling system could raise up to us$ 250 million in gross gaming revenue and us$ 55 million in taxes on an annual basis.
Lesniak, iMEGA and Senate President Stephen Sweeney are currently contesting a motion by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to dismiss their attempt to overturn the 1991 federal law prohibiting state-regulated sports betting.
Lesniak and iMEGA have become locked in a war of words with US casino giant Harrah’s over the online casino and sports betting proposals, accusing it of obstructing attempts to hold a referendum on legalising sports betting at the state’s racetracks and casinos, a charge it denies, and also to efforts to pass a bill permitting Atlantic City’s casinos to offer their games online. Harrah’s is supportive of a nationwide regulatory solution for egaming.